Reflections on 2016
Ever since I had the ability to write I’ve had a journal or diary in some form or another, digital or physical. Ever since I’ve had one of those I’ve always reflected at the end of each year. I know I know…it’s arbitrary but who doesn’t like a fresh new start? Especially have the dozy of a year that was 2016 in the world.
The past 12 months have been full of many moments of struggle and triumph. However, I think as with most things it’s time to move on. If you know me I’m all about striving towards more, onward and upward, that the best is yet to come, etc etc. I’m also a goal oriented person so I believe it’s important to learn from the past and apply that to the future. Overall 2016 may have been my best year yet.
2016 in a summary: taking on what feels like more than I can chew but exceeding expectations anyway
In the beginning I was rushing to finish my last semester of school including writing my ambitious and lengthy French thesis. I might as well have lived on campus because I was spending long hours there between work and classes. To my surprise I got awarded the research grant that let me go to Quebec City & Montreal for the first time. I also got a grant to go to a conference on International Education and discovered that’s what I think I want to do. Got inducted into yet another honor society and got nominated for student employee of the year. Overall very sad to leave my job at the Study Abroad office of WMU because of how much I enjoyed working there.
Canada in summary: very cold, poutine, snow in spring and time with Catherine, feeling like i’m in Europe but not, that accent, research and hot wine
Then before I knew it I had finished and it was time to graduate even though the semester had seemed never ending. As someone who has had ‘being a student’ a part of their identity for a long long time it’s weird to enter the post-grad life stage. However, I did keep busy my last summer in Kalamazoo between friends and a gig at Girl Scouts. I found then that I had been accepted to teach in France so I was leaving Kalamazoo for real. I had to pack up and move and say goodbye to the city and my friends there. To say that was a difficult thing is an understatement. I had lived off/on in Kalamazoo since 2012 and year-round for two full years. It had become my home. I was familiar with everything and could run into someone I knew just about anywhere. It was not easy to pack up all my belongings and move but I knew it was what was best for me. I like being comfortable in a place and although I’m a big believer in getting out of your comfort zone because that’s where growth is, sometimes the leap is a difficult one.
My last summer in Kzoo/Michigan and two graduations
I got to travel to the Upper Peninsula for the first time and before I knew it I was off to live in France (for the second time) and teach (first time really, excluding being a TA in college). I was excited and open to new possibilities living in a place I’d never lived before but this time I did have expectations. Things obviously did not go always as planned and it’s not fun sometimes it’s extremely difficult. On your own, with sometimes little instructions sometimes things don’t go well anywhere but especially a foreign country. I think now through this process my ability to think on my feet and be flexible in any situation has increased times a million. I’m finally feeling so comfortable and settled in to my life here and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Note on post grad life- sometimes it’s not what you think it will be. It’s definitely been hard moving all the way here and by myself this time with no built in friend group- some of the former who I’m not friends with anymore. Friends who you share these experiences with only to loose are harder to wrap your mind around than a romantic relationship I think. You can’t do more than tend do those friendships you still have I suppose.
Other times as an expat life is great. It has been difficult moving and living alone and far away from most other assistants. That’s made me get out of my bubble and actually make French friends sometimes and also not be afraid to be on my own or travel on my own. I’m also more determined to improve my French.
This is the year I learned not to compromise myself and my wants. My ability to do so many not always be perfect but I’m working on it.
In conclusion I’m proud of the self-growth and my accomplishments this year, it’s kind of been a roller coaster and I haven’t always known the outcome but at least I know I was brave. 2016 in the process I acquired: one degree, three separate jobs, six flights, four countries visited and many cities.
I recently spent Christmas in Paris with my family! Details on that in a later post but it was kind of our best Christmas and vacation yet
I’m attempting to expand the scope of my blog! I’m going to start to talk about things beyond travel but other passions like feminism, media, books, style etc. So stay tuned.
I’m not revealing all my resolutions because some you just have to keep to yourself but here are some.
Since when did my resolutions get so boring?
One thing about post grad life is how your focuses shift and you have to concentrate your energy on where it matters even though you have more freedom to do so. So not so much boring as ‘grown-up’ I guess.
In 2017 I want to:
- Give up red meat
- Drink more water
- Do yoga like 3x a week
- Actual plan meals (this is when I’ll know I’m a full fleged adult)
- Work on French more, start German
- Get another tattoo or two
- Read more books! So far I’ve read: The Princess Diarist and Milk & Honey
- Write guest blogs
- Get more engagement on my blog
- Overall be more organized
- Travel to: Belgium, Netherlands, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, Berlin, Heidelberg and Frankfurt
- Get a summer job/grad school/job search abroad done here
How about you? Also recommend me books to read for this year (in French or English). Now these goals go taped up my bathroom mirror to remind myself to actually accomplish them all…hopefully.